Pages

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Thinking about Christmas and its representation in English literary culture

If I ever go back to uni to study literature I've already got my PhD thesis topic worked out ... Thinking about Christmas and its representation in English literary culture it's only in the mid-19th century with Dickens (Scrooge etc) that we see the event marked as somehow definitive for the whole society, as an event characterised by mass market appeal and consumerism. There is no celebration of Christmas in Jane Austen or any of the writers who influenced her. And it was in the 1850s that we see the final outpouring of Romantic culture aimed at the entire population: Melville, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Whitman, Rimbaud. After that you can more easily see a split with two modes of representation: high and low (or popular) culture. Innovation was taken away from popular culture, which became merely a vehicle for Capital, a way to earn money on the back of the growing proletariat, who are thus atomised, and able to achieve agency only as a collective. For high culture practitioners there emerged a fruitful substrate of cultural generation upon which to lay the seeds of innovation and (by definition, somehow) individual agency.

No comments: